Growth of personal assistant apps "spotty and sluggish" - Mobile World Live

Growth of personal assistant apps “spotty and sluggish”

13 JUL 2017

The use of personal assistant (PA) apps on mobiles is stagnating and may even be decreasing, partly because people are using standalone home devices such as Amazon’s Echo to complete everyday tasks such as messaging and searching for information, Verto Analytics revealed.

The research company monitored a panel of US adults who use PA apps like Siri over the course of a year and found no increase in the numbers using them.

“Despite all the hype, the take-up of personal assistant apps is spotty and sluggish and has yet to gain a sturdy mass-market foothold,” said Hannu Verkasalo, CEO of Verto Analytics.

The usage of artificial intelligence-driven apps and services is in its infancy as consumers are still exploring how to use them, he added.

In May 2017, 71 million, or 44 per cent, of US adult smartphone owners used a PA app, the same as in May 2016, but down from a peak of around 88 million people in November 2016.

Time spent using the apps more than halved from 28 minutes a month to just over 12 minutes.

The report observed PA apps are used mainly for navigation, such as finding a route or location via Google Maps, and for accessing entertainment at home through services including Netflix and YouTube.

Use of these apps show distinct peaks, at 10am and 1pm, and experience a steady climb from 2pm to 7pm before dropping off in the evening, reinforcing the idea users switch to home-based standalone devices.

Siri remains the most popular PA app, but its number of monthly users fell 15 per cent over the year to 7.3 million, while its stickiness level (average daily users as a percentage of total monthly users) dropped by nearly half to 11 per cent.

In contrast, Amazon’s Alexa saw a 325 per cent year-on-year increase in monthly unique users (from 0.8 million to 2.8 million) and more than doubled its stickiness rating to 22 per cent.

The study revealed PA apps are most popular with older women, “a demographic that traditionally falls outside of the expected early adopter niche.”

In fact, the “superuser” – someone who spends over twice as much time as the average person – is a 52-year-old female, spending 1.5 hours per month on PA apps compared to the 12 minute average.

The decline of PA apps could be linked with growing use of voice AI in connected speakers, which analysts recently told Mobile World Live are increasingly challenging the smartphone’s role as consumers’ central interface.


Saleha Riaz

Saleha joined Mobile World Live in October 2014 as a reporter and works across all e-newsletters - creating content, writing blogs and reports as well as conducting feature interviews...More

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